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Christmas cookies for Santa

2014 December 18
by Emily Hill

I don’t know about you, but I’m all about making sure our Christmas cookies for Santa are as delightful and delicious as possible…you know, just in case Santa leaves a few crumbs. Any one of these 15 Christmas cookies will ensure your kids (and you) are on Santa’s “nice” list for 2015.

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Christmas Cookies for Santa -- these are sure to ensure your spot on the NICE list!

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Snowball cookies
Love these bite-size snowball cookies from Cooking Classy.

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red velvet cream cheese thumbprint cookies
Red velvet cream cheese thumbprints for the man in the red suit from Something Swanky.

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chocolate spice gingerbread
How adorable are these chocolate spice gingerbread men from Spicy Ice Cream?

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peppermint butter cookies
I’m dying to try these peppermint butter cookies from Taste and Tell.

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holiday cut out sugar cookies
My kids would love to make holiday cut out sugar cookies with easy icing from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

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hot cocoa cookies
Mmm…hot cocoa cookies from Glorious Treats.

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frosted honey Christmas cookies
These frosted honey Christmas cookies from Vintage Mixer look absolutely divine!

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candy cane Oreo cookies
Love the combo of peppermint and Oreo in these candy cane Oreo cookies from Oh Sweet Basil.

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thumbprint snowman cookies
These thumbprint snowman cookies from In Katrina’s Kitchen might be my favorite cookies for Santa.

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dark chocolate dipped cookies
Southern Fairytale knows Santa loves chocolate: candy cane-dipped dark chocolate cookies.

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red velvet gooey butter cookies
Get festive with these red velvet gooey butter cookies from Chef in Training.

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Oreo peppermint crunch cookies
I’d like a bite or two (or more) of these Oreo peppermint crunch cookies from Inside BruCrew Life.

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Magical Mint Cookies -- chocolate cookies with a hidden candy cane surprise inside.
Not my best photography but don’t let that stop you from making these delightful magical mint cookies.

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double chocolate eggnog sandwich cookies
I’m dying over these double chocolate eggnog sandwich cookies from I Wash You Dry.

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Christmas Tree peanut butter blossom cookies
Way to make the classic peanut butter blossom cookie super festive! Love this idea from Java Cupcake.

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If you’re looking for more holiday inspiration, check out my “happy holidays” Pinterest board. It’s full of all kinds of holiday-worthy recipes, crafts and ideas.

Follow Emily Hill’s board happy holidays on Pinterest.

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ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.
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Golden Grahams s’mores bars (because I love ‘em)

2014 December 16
by Emily Hill

It’s true. Golden Grahams s’mores bars aren’t the most glamorous of desserts, but as is often the case (and so true in this case), looks can be very deceiving.

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Golden Grahams smores bars

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These Golden Grahams s’mores bars are one of my favorite bar desserts because they:

  • Are ridiculously easy to make.
  • Take very little time (15 minutes start to finish).
  • Use ingredients I can easily keep on hand in case of a dessert emergency.
  • Taste just like s’mores but without the campfire.
  • Contain Golden Grahams, semisweet chocolate chips and marshmallows—an amazing trifecta of flavors.

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Golden Grahams smores bars

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I think pairing these with our favorite old-fashioned iced oatmeal cookies and maybe some classic peanut butter cookies would make for the perfect holiday cookie plate. Just sayin’.

Printable recipe for Golden Grahams s’mores bars below.
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Golden Grahams S'mores Bars
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
This recipe is adapted from the classic Golden Grahams s'mores bars recipe from Betty Crocker. You can use milk chocolate if you'd like. So easy to make and so easy to devour!
Ingredients
  • 8 cups Golden Grahams cereal (1 box)
  • 1 (10.5-oz) bag miniature marshmallows
  • 1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • 5 T unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Instructions
  1. Butter a 9x13-inch pan. Set aside 1 cup of marshmallows.
  2. Melt the chocolate chips, butter, corn syrup and remaining marshmallows In a large saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely melted.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  4. Add cereal to saucepan. Stir until completely coated with chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining 1 cup marshmallows.
  5. Press mixture in pan using a buttered spatula. Cool at least 1 hour or until firm. Store at room temperature loosely covered.

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If you absolutely love bar desserts, you’ll definitely want to check out my “bars & brownies recipes” Pinterest board. It’s full of all kinds of drool-worthy dessert recipes.

Follow Emily Hill’s board desserts {bars & brownies} on Pinterest.

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ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.
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He is the Gift #SharetheGift

2014 December 14
by Emily Hill

I love any and all reminders about the reason for the season, especially when I get caught up in the craziness that is holiday shopping (only 10 days left!), gift giving (wait, who is getting what?), food preparing (potluck dish #219), event attending (when is the 2nd grade sing-along again?) and all things eating (peppermint Oreo shakes all around!).

Too often (every year, in fact) the greatest gift of all is lost among the sparkly, shimmery trimmings, for it is not sparkly nor is it shimmery. This gift does not need decoration for it is absolutely beautiful and remarkable without them.
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He is the Gift. God’s greatest gift to humankind, in fact. Through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, we can find peace and joy that will last long after the holiday decorations have been put away.

He’s pretty much the best. gift. ever.

If you’d like to learn more about this gift and how you too can share it (#ShareTheGift), click here. If you’re interested in why I believe what I believe and why some of your favorite bloggers are Mormon, click here.

Wishing you the happiest and most joyous of holiday seasons. Merry Christ-mas!

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ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.
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Peppermint Oreo shake & going SOLO

2014 December 11
by Emily Hill

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of SOLO® Brand Products for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Before I share the recipe for this peppermint Oreo shake, I must proclaim my love of disposable serving pieces. But first, a photo of the most delightful frozen treat of the holiday season.

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Peppermint Oreo shake -- quite possibly the best frozen treat of the holiday season.

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Can I still be considered a food blogger if I prefer using disposable plates, cups and plasticware during the holidays (and most weekends)? With all the craziness of the holidays and all the prep that goes into holiday entertaining, the last thing I want to worry about is a sink—and a kitchen and sometimes laundry room—full of dishes. It’s true. We use paper plates, plastic cups and plastic forks, knives and spoons for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. And I love it.

Of course if you’re going to go paper and plastic, make sure you go high quality like SOLO® holiday entertaining. No ond wants flimsy cups that have a 97.6 percent chance of tipping while being filled, nor do they want pansy plates that can’t hold up to a single 2-pound serving of turkey with a 3-pound side of mashed potatoes. But disposable doesn’t have ot mean boring. I love SOLO Squared Plastic Cups—they’re easy to hold and have plenty of space for your Sharpied name. (Hands off my Diet Coke, people!) And SOLO Heavy Duty Paper Plates come in some fun holiday prints, which are perfect for your holiday cookie plates. Look how cute my magical mint cookies look amidst the green, white and red polkadots!

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Magical mint cookies

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But let’s get back to those peppermint Oreo shakes. OH. MY. GOODNESS. These were so scrumptious! It’s a good thing five of us where home when I served these for family night or I’d have downed them all.

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Peppermint Oreo shake -- quite possibly the best frozen treat of the holiday season.

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The SOLO Clear Pastic Cups were perfect for displaying all the pepperminty goodness and were just the right serving size. It’s all about portion control during the holidays. And pretty much every day, dang it.

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Peppermint Oreo shake -- quite possibly the best frozen treat of the holiday season.

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George was so awesome during the midday photo shoot, I had no problem letting him indulge in one of the peppermint Oreo shakes.

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Peppermint Oreo shake -- quite possibly the best frozen treat of the holiday season.

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Of course, only George and I were home during the shoot so we had to make a second batch for the rest of the family. Not that he or I minded one bit. Livi waited patiently for her peppermint Oreo shake but only because she had those SOLO products to keep her busy…

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SOLO Disposable Holiday Products
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I found those festive paper plates easily doubled as serving trays for our family night treats.

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SOLO Disposable Holiday Products
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The peppermint Oreo shakes were a total hit (duh).

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SOLO Disposable Holiday Products

SOLO Disposable Holiday Products

SOLO Disposable Holiday Products
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It’s a good thing I have proof I wasn’t the only one inhaling those homemade milkshakes or you might think I was the one responsible for this family night photo:

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SOLO Disposable Holiday Products
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The best part? Once everyone was done it took 2 1/2 seconds to clean up (maybe even less) because everything was disposable. Pretty awesome family night if you ask me!

Your holiday nights can be just as fun with just as little cleanup if you come over to the SOLO side. I’m telling you, disposable is the only way to go November through January. It could quite possibly change your life.

Just like these peppermint Oreo shakes.
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Peppermint Oreo Shake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Milkshake
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
The perfect combination of peppermint ice cream and Oreos makes for the perfect holiday treat. Top with whipped cream, crushed candy cane and an Oreo for added fun. If you want to make the cups a bit more festive, dip rim in simple syrup (recipe here: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/simple-syrup/) and twist in a plate filled with crushed candy canes.
Ingredients
Milkshake
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 to 3 scoops peppermint ice cream
  • 8 Oreo cookies
Toppings
  • Whipped cream
  • Oreo cookies
  • Crushed candy can
Instructions
  1. Place ingredients in blender in order listed.
  2. Blend on low speed until thick and creamy.
  3. Serve immediately topped with whipped cream, crushed candy cane and an Oreo cookie.

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If you’re a fan of holiday milkshakes, you’ll love this salted caramel eggnog milkshake. For reals.

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Salted caramel eggnog milkshake

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For more holiday inspiration, check out SOLO’s Pinterest page. You’ll find other inspiration there too like ideas for the perfect tailgate party, the best Super Bowl bash and even some super fun crafts.
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Visit Sponsor's Site

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ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.
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Skin Authority review (am I too honest?) & GIVEAWAY

2014 December 10
by Emily Hill

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Skin Authority. All thoughts, opinions and reviews of their products are 100 percent honest.

I live in Utah, which means my skin is super extra dry from early November until mid April. We’ve had a very mild winter so far, so my skin—more specifically, my hands—haven’t needed too much extra TLC in the form of moisturizing, But that doesn’t mean I can’t go without some sort of daily lotion application. Hello, it’s Utah.

I also live with four kids ages 7 to 17, drink too much Diet Coke and get too little sleep. All that awesomeness combined with recently turning 40 means I’m always on the lookout for a good eye cream that helps tighten and prevent fine lines and minimizes dark circles.

I have yet to find one.

When Skin Authority asked if I wanted to review their Body Drench Duo and Ultra Eye Duo, I was all over it. I’m always game for trying anything that solves dry skin or under-eye issues; I could not pass up trying to solve both at once!

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Skin Authority review - Body Drench Duo and Ultra Eye Duo
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First, the Body Drench Duo. This duo includes their Bamboo Ginseng Scrub and Olive, Fig, Shea Butter Body Cream. I am here to tell you, I love the body cream; it was by far the star of the duo. The consistency was a cross between a lotion and body butter, making it perfect for cold, dry weather. It passed the two most important tests:

Applying it after a morning shower. Usually I apply lotion post showering and have to reapply about midday, especially if I’m out and about running errands. With the Olive, Fig, Shea Butter Body Cream, I applied only once and was good to go all day.

Applying it every other day. I don’t usually shower on yoga days because I rarely break a sweat, but I can never get away with an every-other-day lotion application. But guess how fun it is to lotion your legs and then try to grab your ankles in bow pose or dancer? Your hands get all slick and you find yourself slipping and sliding in down dog. Not good. With this cream, I was good to go another 24 hours, eliminating any yoga fatalities.

As for the scrub, I found it not nearly as “scrubby” as I’d like (see photo). It didn’t have enough of those fine grains of bamboo to feel like it truly exfoliated the skin. It did have great hydrating properties and a super pleasant smell, so I’ll definitely use it again but more as a “spa treatment” than a serious exfoliant.

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Skin Authority review - Body Drench Duo and Ultra Eye Duo
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Second, the Ultra Eye Duo. This duo includes the Reviving Eye Brightener and Ultra Rich Moisturizer. The Reviving Eye Brightener is supposed to help brighten eyes and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, dark circles or fatigue. I actually really loved this product but only because it did an awesome job at reducing my fine lines. I’d say it performed better than any of the other eye creams I’ve used in the past. But like those other eye creams, I couldn’t really tell an improvement in the dark circles. Maybe those genetics are just too strong (or my kids just too crazy). Is it worth the $79.50? Maybe when I have a few more fine lines to battle.

As for the Ultra Rich Moisturizer, I can’t give a full review of this product because I’m adamant about sunscreen in my daily moisturizer. Look at the bottle…do you see an SPF anywhere?

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Skin Authority review - Body Drench Duo and Ultra Eye Duo
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Neither do I. While it did seem to moisturize well, I don’t really need extra moisturizing in my under-eye area because the Reviving Eye Brightener did a great job of that. And I won’t use it as a daily moisturizer due to the lack of sun protection. It’s really too bad because I liked the texture and feel of the Ultra Rich Moisturizer and I think it could have been a great daytime moisturizer.

All in all, these two were my faves:

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Skin Authority review - Body Drench Duo and Ultra Eye Duo
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But would I shell out the cash to buy these Skin Authority products again? Maybe the Olive, Fig, Shea Butter Body Cream if it’s an extra harsh Utah winter.

And now for the giveaway!
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One lucky ITRML reader will win a Body Drench Duo just in time to battle the harsh winter weather!


You can enter this giveaway using the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.
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Chocolate brownie trifle

2014 December 9
by Emily Hill

Remember that oh-so-decadent peanut butter chocolate trifle I posted a couple weeks ago? It was a peanut buttery take on this chocolate brownie trifle recipe that’s been a family favorite for years.

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Chocolate brownie trifle. Layers of brownie, chocolate pudding, whipped topping, caramel and toffee bits. To die for!

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This chocolate brownie trifle features layers of rich, chocolate brownie, chocolate pudding, whipped topping, toffee and caramel. Though the toffee and caramel are optional, I think they’re a must as they round out the flavors perfectly.

I throw in caramel and toffee whenever I can.

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Chocolate brownie trifle. Layers of brownie, chocolate pudding, whipped topping, caramel and toffee bits. To die for!

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This chocolate brownie trifle is perfect for the holidays because it easily feeds a huge crowd. This trifle is so rich you need only a small serving before your dessert stomach is full. Another great thing? You should make this trifle at least 8 hours before you wish to serve it, so make it the day before and cut out some day-of prep!

Printable recipe for chocolate brownie trifle below.
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Chocolate Brownie Trifle
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
This chocolate brownie trifle is a tasty way to feed a crowd. It features rich, chocolate brownies, chocolate pudding, whipped topping, toffee and caramel.
Ingredients
  • 1 9×13-inch pan of your favorite chocolate brownies, cooled
  • 1 (3.9-ounce) package instant chocolate fudge pudding mix
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (8-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 (16-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • ¼ to ½ cup toffee bits
  • Caramel sundae topping
Instructions
  1. Cut brownies into 1-inch squares.
  2. Combine pudding mix, water and sweetened condensed milk in a large bowl. Mix until smooth; fold in 8-ounce container of whipped topping until no streaks remain.
  3. Layer half of the brownies, half of the pudding mixture and half of the 16-ounce container of whipped topping in a trifle bowl or similar large glass bowl.
  4. Sprinkle with half the toffee bits and drizzle with caramel topping. Repeat layers. Refrigerate at least 8 hours before serving.

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If you’re a fan of trifle, you may also want to try this peanut butter chocolate trifle featuring my favorite peanut butter swirl brownies:

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Peanut butter chocolate trifle - if you love peanut butter AND chocolate trifle, you must make this ASAP.

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ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.
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You simply must see Salt Lake Acting Company’s “A Year with Frog & Toad”

2014 December 8
by Emily Hill

Disclosure: Our family received tickets to Salt Lake Acting Company’s A Year with Frog & Toad. All thoughts, opinions and newfound love for Salt Lake Acting company is 100 percent true.

*** Get $3 off your ticket price if you mention my blog! ***

Our family saw the most enchanting children’s play Friday night. It was pure joy from beginning to end—or spring to spring, depending on how you look at it. If you’re a fan of the Frog & Toad books by Arnold Lobel, you simply must see Salt Lake Acting Company’s production of the Tony-nominated musical A Year with Frog & Toad.

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Salt Lake Acting Company - A Year with Frog and Toad
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“Part vaudeville, part make-believe, all charm.” AMEN.

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SLAC A Year with Frog and Toad
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The Salt Lake Acting Company venue reminded me of Hale Centre Theatre only a bit more intimate, which was absolutely lovely. I’m a huge fan of smaller theaters because they allow playgoers to feel more a part of the story. Everything is happening front and center and you can’t help but be drawn in. There’s nothing like escaping into a whimsical world for a spell, especially amidst the holiday craziness.

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SLAC A Year with Frog and Toad
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The play, which runs about an hour, is perfect for kids of all ages. I looked over at my older girls a couple times and they were both smiling and giggling and thoroughly enjoying themselves (even if they played it down a bit). Those actors had enough energy and animation to keep the audience engaged the entire time, and that’s saying something considering the little ones in attendance. Frog and Toad were superb and the three birds (who also played squirrels, a snail, a mouse, a turtle, a lizard, the Frog family, and even moles) where phenomenal.

They all must be on hidden caffeine drips because they gave 110 percent for a full hour.

Here’s what critics (i.e., my kids) had to say:

  • George: It was like the best play ever because I love Frog and Toad. And it was so amazing how they, like, had to learn all the music in one week. They have awesome voices and they’re super hyper. And if you need one more thing, it’s the funniest thing ever. Besides a talking dog.
  • Madison: I liked it! I’m really glad the Frog guy was cute because that basically made it more fun for me to watch. And the birds were funny. They had some really cute songs.
  • Olivia: It was really really really really really fun! It was so fun I could hardly laugh! My favorite was the snail delivering mail. I liked the snail.
  • Lauren: I really liked it! It was kind of younger but it was really great. Entertained me and made me laugh. I was laughing todos los dias.

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Even more fun—and maybe this was just because it was opening night—the actors held a quick Q&A with the audience after the show. How awesome is that? The kids loved it!

Believe me when I say you don’t want to miss out on “A Year with Frog & Toad” by Salt Lake Acting Company. The story is all about two best friends celebrating and rejoicing in their differences—a story of a friendship that endures, weathering all seasons.

And it is absolutely lovely.

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes video with a sneak peek of our favorite “Cookies” song (oh my gosh, loved this song so much) and a few thoughts from the Director. Take this sneak peek and multiply it by 100 and you’ll have the pure delight that is “A Year with Frog & Toad.”

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“A Year with Frog & Toad runs from December 5th through December 27th and has performances most nights during the week and matinees on Saturday. For ticket information, click here.

*** Get $3 off your ticket price if you mention my blog! ***

DON’T MISS IT!

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ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.
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